Tag Archives: new christian fiction

Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley Shines Light into World of Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Reading Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley was like going on an amazing expedition to the past, circa Babylon 563 BC, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Through Tracy’s writing, I can imagine what it might have been like to have actually lived during this time, whether a poor captive Jew living in the dry dirt and heat in a land they were forced to live in, or the royal family of Babylon living out their days in luxury in a palace with a beautiful, lush seven-tiered garden.  I was totally hooked on this book from the first day!!

The book takes place a year before the King’s death and in the last year of his seven year period of being lost. It weaves historical fact from this time period dealing with Nebuchadnezzar and his struggle to accept God (and that there is just one God) and turn away from the pagan gods of Babylon, as well as creating a fictional story based on the connection between a member of the Royal Family (a fictional daughter Tia) and the captive Jews of that period, specifically Daniel (who we all know), Pedaiah, and Shealtiel.  One of the latter two brothers would become the father of the boy who comes to carry his people out of Babylon. 

Tracy has an amazingly clear writing voice that is smooth and decadent, yet strong and emotional. As a reader, you’ll find yourself immersing into each characters personality and feeling what they feel along each step in their journey.  These characters, many based on historical people from history and The Bible, were so life-like that I became, for example, both endeared to the strength, loyalty and determination of the main character Tia, while also being reviled by the evil ways of some other characters in the book who were trying to usurp the throne (yep, court politics and intrigue never dies no matter what century, culture, country, etc.!).

Ultimately, I would have loved more detail surrounding these Hanging Gardens, once touted as a Seven Wonder of the Ancient World. Yet, hardly any detail is actually known about these gardens in order for them to be written about at length.  Supposedly, the gardens were able to exist in a desert country of total dryness due to a hydraulic system, or maybe a way of loading buckets and watering from top terrace to bottom terrace, that irrigated the foliage with water from the major water source of that area ~ the river Euphrates. Sadly, historians can’t even say with ultimate accuracy that these gardens even existed. However, Tracy gave just enough structural detail in her book that my mind filled in the rest of the visual scenery of the trees, flowers, bushes, and so on itself.  Furthermore, I’m left feeling as I should after reading a good historical fiction book. I’m now feeling as if I want to read and learn more about the ancient civilization of Babylon. I see some research into a good archeology episode on History Channel in my near future!

As a major history buff myself, this historical period is one I haven’t read much on; however, I am a huge fan of history from the Biblical times. This is why I love reading Christian historical fiction especially, because the writers delve into the ancient history of cultures that came before the time period of Christ to give us a glimpse into societies that seemed to have so much intelligence in education, science, nature, construction, writing and more.  I like that Tracy, as most other Christian writers, incorporate romance and magic into their books in a clean manner so that I can just get into the drama of the story. It allows me to feel better recommending it as well. My 73-year-old parents, both avid Christian readers, also enjoyed the book in record fashion.

Tracy did a wonderful job of showing how a culture based on paganism started to lean on the promises of God. She showed in one circumstance, though there are others in ancient history, how Jews have been held captive in a country without riches or political claim and came to quietly show their captors through gentle word, deed, and action how to live life through God.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian fiction, but also to anyone who enjoys a good story wrapped around an ancient civilization. I loved how determined and independent her female character, Tia, was portrayed. History plus strong characters, mixed with superb writing make for a book I can’t put down until I read the last page. I also really enjoyed her after pages full of historical references beyond the story.

About the Book~

The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter…
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an indulgent palace life.But when her husband dies and a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own newfound freedom is threatened.As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family’s secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband’s brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, one woman must decide if she is willing to risk everything—her possessions, her gods, and her very life—for the Israelite’s one God. Madness, sorcery and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist’s deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk all – to save the kingdom, and to save herself.

Connect with Tracy Higley~

Tracy also has some great information on her website pertaining to this time period and all the others she writes about. Visit her at www.tracyhigley.com.

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Tracy Higley, Author Bio

A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight.  Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.

“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley.  “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”

In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.

“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.

 When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four
online retail companies, including KoolStuff4Kids.com – a family run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.

Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information or to read “Tracy’s Travel’s” blog, please visit www.tlhigley.com.

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I received a copy of Garden of Madness from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review of the book.

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The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck Brings Historical Mystery Linking Generations

Can you imagine a vintage trunk calling to you….urging you to act impulsively and make you its owner? What about if you suddenly found a similar bond and link to a set of women from the past once you opened that trunk? Could it all be divine intervention? I loved immersing myself on the historical trek that The Wedding Dress, by Rachel Hauck, led me on.

Every night I would read more than I realized, because the prose was so smooth and light. It flowed so freely between Emily, a young aristocrat from 1912, and Charlotte, a wedding gown boutique owner from the present. This established unknown link encouraged me to keep reading, because it peaked my interest as to what the tie was between the two women.  It was an airy read that intrigued me enough, but also let me be entertained without thinking too hard. 

I loved following Charlotte’s journey as she discovered the lives of three other women from the past who wore the mint-condition wedding dress found in the trunk. The story was sweet and inspiring with a twist of mystery. It reminded me why we should always listen to our inner intuitive self, be in touch with those who came before us as well as ourselves, and always choose love over anything else.

I think I chose to review it for the fact that it had a historical element as well as mystical vibe. Our Lord can move in mysterious ways.  This was an undercurrent reality in this book, though no open references were made.  It brought allegory to us in the most quiet of ways.  The Wedding Dress is a reminder of God’s love for us and His plan for us.

Here is the book promo:

One dress. Four women. An amazing destiny.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift—and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress—or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte purchases a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new, shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed”?

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the beauty of finding true love.

About Rachel Hauck, in her own words:

I wrote my first story about a girl and her pony when I was ten. It was handwritten in a spiral notebook.  My second story was about a girl who wanted to move away and live in New York City. I was twelve and no one had ever heard of “chick lit.”  I laughed when I found that incomplete manuscript in an old box-o-stuff. I told my husband, “I was born to write.”

Words fascinate me. I love putting them together and dialoging with the characters who live in my heart and mind. I carry on conversations with them while driving down the road or sitting on a bike in Spin class.

People are as fascinating as words. I love hearing personal stories of romance, tragedy and triumph. I’d love to hear your stories, too, if you care to write to me. I’m always wondering “what if” about the human condition and see what string of events might develop into a new story.

My life as been molded by the encouragement of my parents and teachers, and by the places I’ve lived like Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Florida, and the people I’ve met along the way.  Readers ask, “Is any part of you in your stories or characters?”  The answer is always yes. All of us are impacted by the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met, if only for a moment. As a writer, those exposures show up in the stories I write.

After graduating from the Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, I traveled as a software trainer. From California to Maine, I experienced the beauty and heart of America and our people. In countries such as Australia, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Ireland and Canada came to see how people are just people. We all want the same things: love and happiness, laughter, faith and safety, and a bit of prosperity.

Those experiences make up the tapestry of my stories. Life-like characters that, by the book’s end, get in your heart and make you want to spend time with them over a latte or Diet Coke.  Looking back, I believe I’ve always written. If not in my journals or stories, in my heart. I was constantly taking note of the sights and sounds around me, the emotion of a moment: dinner with friends, the last night in college before graduation, racing through an airport to catch a flight to Australia, talking about Jesus with my translator in the back of a cab as we drove across Madrid.  Now, my days are spent mining those life experiences and emotions so I can share them with you through the eyes and ears of my characters and the places they live.

In ’92, I married my best friend, Tony, and spent over eighteen years in youth ministry with him. We love to read and go to the gym, and laugh at the antics of our pets.  A year later, I started my first novel, an epic WWII story that eventually found some light as a sub plot in my book Love Starts With Elle..

With the help and cheering of writing friends I met through American Christian Fiction Writers where I served as President and now as an Advisor, my first book was published in 2004, the same year I left the corporate world to write full time..

Since then I’ve become an award winning, best selling author of twelve novels with more to come. It’s my desire for you find hope and escape in my stories, and inhale a bit of the fragrance of Jesus’s love.

To learn more about Rachel Hauck, or view her other titles, you can go to www.rachelhauck.com. You’ll find her Facebook and Twitter links there as well.

I received this wonderful book from Thomas Nelson publishers free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

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